Critics should be more supportive of new British musicals – Curve boss

Louise Dearman (Mrs D) in Water Babies at Curve, Leicester
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Critics from the national press should be more supportive of new British musical theatre productions if the genre is to survive, Curve chief executive Fiona Allan has warned.

The Leicester theatre boss said the national media had “absolutely murdered” new British musical Water Babies, which ran at Curve earlier this year, and claimed this had destroyed the show’s chance of having a future life. Although it was staged at Curve, the show was not produced by the venue.

“I think it’s important for the media to give new musicals a chance. Water Babies was a brand new British musical and they [the creative team] had very big plans for it. What we saw is a lot of tickets sold and audiences liked it, and it had a standing ovation every night. But it was absolutely murdered by the national press. The national press said it was terrible and pretty much killed it off I think – certainly the chance of having an immediate life,” she said.

Allan added: “I think there has to be a responsibility, if we want there to be new British musicals, for people to understand that risks are being taken and shows need to be developed and to give things a chance.”

She acknowledged that critics have to be honest, but said there said there was a difference between “honest and nasty”, and added that some critics had been “vitriolic” in their response to Water Babies.

Allan was speaking at the launch for a new musical based on Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, which will open at Curve in March next year.

It is written by British composers Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary and directed by Luke Sheppard.

Allan said a tour was being planned following the show’s run at Curve from March 7 to April 4.